Election Integrity Act of 2021

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Photo of Governor Kemp signing new election laws Courtesy of (Photo courtesy of TheNationalNews.com).

Controversy colludes the passage of a series of new Georgia voting laws that Governor Kemp signed into law last Thursday. Republicans say the law was necessary for election security, but many criticize that the laws will restrict voting access, especially for voters of color. 

While there is a myriad of changes introduced in the laws, a few significant changes include:

Mail-in absentee voting: The earliest time a voter can request a mail-in ballot will be 11 weeks before an election instead of 180 days.

The final deadline to complete an application was moved earlier, too. Instead of returning an application by the Friday before election day, it has to be two Fridays before.

Counties will also begin mailing out absentee ballots about three weeks later than before — four weeks before the election

ID Rules: The law requires a voter to present either their driver’s license number, state ID number, or any copy of acceptable voter ID in order to request and return a ballot. 

Previously, poll workers would simply check a signature on the application with those on file to verify the voter. Now, however, poll workers will use the presented voter ID information along with the voters’ name, date of birth, and address in order to verify their identity. Afterward, the voter will have to sign an oath, swearing that everything is correct. 

Absentee Ballot Drop Boxes: The law now requires all 159 counties to have at least one dropbox, caps the number of boxes at one per 100,000 active voters or one for every early voting site (whichever is smaller), and moves them inside early voting sites instead of outside on government property. Additionally, the drop boxes will only be accessible during early voting days and hours instead of 24/7.

“Line Warming”: This part of the law bans people from taking food and drinks to voters in line. Before the ban, this practice was helpful to Georgians who experienced long waiting lines, some of which extended to up to 10 hours in some places in Georgia last year.

Runoff Elections: Run-off elections may only last to 4 weeks instead of 9. 

Consequently, no new voters would be able to register in the period before a runoff because the registration deadline would be the day before the earlier election.

Many Republicans in the Republican-dominated state legislature say that these laws were passed to restore confidence in Georgia’s elections. In contrast, several voting rights groups are filing a lawsuit to try to block the law. Groups such as The New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter, and Rise Inc. say the law violates the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as parts of the federal Voting Rights Act that say states cannot restrict Black voter participation.

Additionally, President Joe Biden made a statement last Friday urging Congress to enact federal voter protections to prevent what he said amounted to “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.”